Tag Archives: at-sea monitors

NOAA Fisheries rule should alarm taxpayers

NOAA Fisheries has discovered a devious way to increase their budget without the checks and balances guaranteed by our forefathers, and the courts have let it stand. I have been involved in a lawsuit with NOAA Fisheries over who pays for at-sea monitors (ASM) for the last three years. These are basically our own personal state police men who ride along on the boat and watch and record everything fishermen do at sea. Fishermen have been forced to sign contracts with for-profit third-party companies that provide this service for $710 per day. Recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear our case, effectively ending our pursuit of justice. Readers should be concerned, not only because this job-killing regulation effects their ability to obtain local seafood, but also because the loss leaves in place a precedent that will allow regulatory agencies to tax citizens by passing regulations while bypassing Congress. click here to read the op-ed 08:56

Groundfishermen: ‘It feels like we’re just forgotten’ – Fishermen who followed Goethel’s path through the federal courts said they were disappointed with the outcome. Goethel said he was “disillusioned” by the process. “Talk about feeling forgotten,” said Jamie Driscoll, a commercial fisherman from Kingston. “That’s how it feels. It feels like we’re just forgotten.” click here to read the op-ed 


Why are fishermen guilty until proven innocent? A case against putting video cameras on every boat

As many of you may know, my husband filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service to stop them from requiring the fishermen to pay for the At-Sea monitors that the Fisheries Service requires ground fishermen to take on their boats. The cost is upwards of $700 a day, which is more than the small family owned fishing boats make here in New England. The Supreme Court decided not to hear their case which the lower courts had dismissed on a technicality because the suit was not filed within a 30 day time frame. Some people have suggested video monitoring as an alternative. I have addressed that in my comments below click here to read Ellen Goethels post 15:01

With plenty of fish in the sea, will there be anyone to catch them?

In 2003, Cohasset author Susan Playfair’s book, Vanishing Species, Saving the Fish, Sacrificing the Fishermen was one of the first pieces to raise the question of the viability of an under recognized species; New England fishermen. She outlined the harsh life that a fisherman endures by the very nature of their job; the most hazardous non-military occupation in the U.S. Playfair also pointed out that regulations where killing the fishermen more than any other factor. Unfortunately, the regulatory environment for fishermen is still a major challenge.,,,  It makes one wonder why anyone would want to become a fisherman. click here to read he op-ed 16:56

Fisherman David Goethel takes case to US Supreme Court

After losing a lawsuit alleging a federal agency has imposed unfair regulations, Hampton fisherman David Goethel is taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Cause of Action Institute, which is representing Goethel and a group of other fishermen pro bono, filed a petition to be taken up by the Supreme Court Tuesday. The suit was originally filed in U.S. District Court against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Department of Commerce in 2015. It alleges NOAA unfairly requires commercial groundfishermen to fund at-sea monitors to join them on fishing trips and observe their compliance with regulations.  click here to read the story 15:52

Withdraw Unlawful Plan Forcing Fishermen to Pay for At-Sea Monitors – Cause of Action Institute

Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”)  has submitted a regulatory comment to the New England Fishery Management Council (“NEFMC”) questioning the Council’s legal authority to move forward a controversial amendment that would force more fishermen to pay for costly at-sea monitors, which are the government’s responsibility.  CoA Institute advised the NEFMC to abandon the Omnibus Amendment, which would imperil an already hard-hit fishing industry by requiring certain fishermen to pay for monitors to police their at-sea activity.  The plan would also open more regional Atlantic fisheries to industry-funded monitors. “The Omnibus Amendment is unlawful and will make it virtually impossible for countless small-business fishermen to pursue their livelihood,” said Julie Smith, CoA Institute Vice President. “Many of these fishermen come from families that have fished American coastal waters for generations.  The federal government should not regulate them out of business. Congress has not authorized it and the economic consequences are too dire. If an agency lacks statutory authority or appropriated funds, it has no power to act. The New England Council should withdraw the Omnibus Amendment.” The cost for a monitor under the amendment is expected to range from $710 to $818 per day at sea.  That would exceed the revenue a fisherman typically lands from his daily catch. CoA Institute represents fishermen challenging another industry-funded monitoring program in the Northeast groundfish fishery.  In that case, a government study predicted that industry-funded monitoring would result in up to 60 percent of mostly small-scale vessels going out of business—a result that the government blithely characterized as a “restructuring” of the groundfish fleet.  Learn more about the case HERE 14:00

Lawsuit over fisheries observers to reach Court of Appeals in March

A New England fishermen’s group suing the federal government over the cost of at-sea monitoring is scheduled to present oral arguments before the federal Court of Appeals in March. The government shifted the cost of paying for monitors to fishermen last year. A group led by New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel sued the government over the rule change. The fishermen lost in federal district court and appealed. Attorneys say the arguments are set to take place March 7. Monitors can cost hundreds of dollars per day. Fishermen argue it represents an illegal new cost burden they can’t shoulder in an era of tight quotas. The rules apply to fishermen of species such as cod and sole. link 11:16

East Coast fishermen file appeal over cost of government-required ‘at-sea monitors’

fisheries observerThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, requires groundfishermen — those who catch cod, haddock and other common bottom-dwelling species — to carry on board “at-sea monitors.” The observers, hired by three for-profit companies, are third-party workers whose task it is to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations and ensure annual quotas are not exceeded.  The dispute lies in the cost of the monitors and who should pay for them: Fishermen are billed on average $700 a day when a regulator is present. NOAA, meanwhile, says monitors were placed on fishing boats like Goethel’s only 14 percent of the time in 2016 — and claims the fishing industry supported this system of regulation in 2010 when a vote went before the New England Fishery Management Council, an advisory board to NOAA that sets the rules. “At sea monitors were originally supported by the sectors when we went from a days-at-sea form of management to a quota based form of management in 2010,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.  Read the story here 14:22

Fisherman appeals case shifting monitor costs

David GoethelNew Hampshire fisherman David Goethel is looking to the federal appeals court to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that allows NOAA Fisheries to impose the cost of at-sea monitoring on Northeast groundfish permit holders. Goethel, represented by lawyers from the Cause of Action watchdog group, has filed an appeal with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, hoping to reverse U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Laplante’s July 29 ruling in Goethel’s lawsuit that granted summary judgment to the federal government. “NOAA lacks the authority to require industry funding for at-sea monitors. Its decision to do so violates federal statutes and the Constitution,” said Alfred Lechner Jr., president and chief executive officer of Cause of Action as well as a former federal judge. “Our clients had a legal right to their day in court at the time they filed suit. The decision holding otherwise is an error. An appeal from the decision of the district court has been filed.” Read the story here 08:13

East Coast fishermen spar with federal government over cost of at-sea monitors

1468439091793Every year, the federal government spends millions monitoring New England commercial fishermen to ensure they ply their timeless maritime trade in accordance with the law. Now, a judge is set to rule on who should foot the bill for the on-board monitors: the government or the fishing boat owners. The East Coast fishermen say sticking them with the bill would be the “death knell” for their  industry and is illegal on the part of the federal government. Fishermen of important New England food species such as cod and haddock will have to start paying the cost of at-sea monitors soon under new rules. Monitors — third-party workers hired to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations — collect data to help determine future fishing quotas and can cost about $18,000 a year, or $710 per voyage. “It is unlawful for NOAA to force struggling fishermen to pay for their own at-sea monitors,” said former federal judge Alfred Lechner, the institute’s president and CEO. “The significant costs of these regulations should be the responsibility of the government.” Read the rest here 08:57

Monitoring The Catch Aboard Groundfishing Vessels

nb_fishing_boats_1Regulations are stiff in the commercial fishing industry – and especially so for those who go after groundfish like cod and haddock. Now, one of the industry’s biggest players is accused of skirting those regulations for years – allegedly cooking the books and reaping big profits on illegally caught groundfish. As Brian Morris reports, that’s having a ripple effect on small, single-boat groundfishermen who play by the rules. Around the docks of New Bedford, people know Carlos Rafael as the “Codfather,” a legendary, self-made figure who dominates the city’s biggest industry. He manages a fleet of some 40 vessels, and also operates a fish distribution operation. Authorities raided his business in February, and federal officials allege he was changing documents – falsifying the types of fish he reported catching. Audio, Read the rest here 14:26

Framework 55 slashes groundfish quotas, halves at-sea monitors, enviros pissed

garbage in science outIt seems the proposed rule, also known as Framework 55, has a little bit of something for everyone to hate. They have until close of business on April 5 to submit their comments to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Environmental groups, such as Oceana, are bitterly criticizing the projected reduction in ASM for groundfish boats to about 14 percent from about 24 percent, saying the rule will “weaken the chances of recovery for this historic fishery.” Fishermen point to the further reductions in what they already consider minuscule catch quotas and say those reductions — combined with the absorption of the costs for ASM — could finally be the management initiative that shutters the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery for good. Read the rest here 20:10

Ret Talbot – Fishery Data versus Anecdote through the Lens of Sector Management

untitled ret talbotAt this year’s Maine Fishermen’s Forum, many old themes are the topic of current conversations. Fisheries managers and scientists point to data that show a fishery resource squarely on the ropes, while many in the fishing industry maintain that there are more fishes in the water than any time in recent memory. Industry often views the current management system as one that forces fishers into a situation where they are “constantly trying not to catch fish” due to quotas imposed by managers based on science the industry views as suspect. The discrepancy between industry and managers–between anecdote and data–is troubling and continues to foment mistrust, frustration and outright anger. Read the rest here 13:19

Fishing industry fighting cost of at-sea monitors

AR-160129405.jpg&MaxW=650Fishermen are opposing new catch-monitoring costs that could take effect March 1, as a judge’s ruling this week gave the industry a setback in efforts to block the transition from government funding. John Haran of Dartmouth, manager of a local fishery sector, said in December that transferring the regulatory costs to the fishing industry could put more than 40 local groundfishing boats out of business. Local fishing industry tycoon Carlos Rafael said the costs — potentially about $700 per monitored trip — could mean repeated expenses of $14,000 across 20 groundfishing boats in his fleet. Read the article here 07:50

Fishermen in court to protest at-sea monitoring cost shift

100_1726A group of East Coast fishermen who are challenging the federal government about the cost of at-sea monitoring is due for a hearing in court. New England fishermen will have to start paying the cost of at-sea monitors soon under new rules. Fishermen challenging the rules are due in U.S. District Court in Concord on Thursday for a hearing on their motion for an injunction. At-sea monitors collect data to help determine future fishing quotas. The monitors can cost about $800 per trip. A group of fishermen contends that the cost shift is illegal. One of the fishermen involved in the lawsuit is Hampton, New Hampshire-based David Goethel. He says many fishermen won’t be able to afford the added cost. Link 07:59

Video: The Phil Paleologos Show – A Talk About At Sea Monitors and Other Regulations For Fishermen

dave goethelPhil Paleologos hosts a conversation regarding a lawsuit over a provision that would require fishermen to pay for at-sea monitors. This conversation included David Geothel, a fisherman and plaintiff in the lawsuit; Richard Canastra, of the Buyers and Sellers Exchange or BASE; Don Cuddy, Program Director for the Center for Sustainable Fisheries; and , the Manager of Sector 13. A court hearing will take place January 21. Watch the video here 11:20

Questions schooling around at-sea fishing monitors – NOAA says money to run out in February

The battle over the cost and scope of at-sea monitoring of Northeast groundfish vessels, now being played out on various regulatory and legal platforms, promises a hectic end to the current fishing season and a complex start to the next. There are no shortage of questions. When will the federal government run out of money and shift the responsibility for paying for observers to the permit holders? And what of the Goethel lawsuit filed with the support of Cause for Action, the nonprofit government watchdog agency? Read the article here. 08:10

NOAA’s unlawful regulation – Lack of fairness, parity at play in at-sea monitors

100_1726It is sadly ironic that the U.S. government is likely to put the final nail in the coffin of the industry. As this column outlined in October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s insistence that ground fishermen fund the at-sea monitoring program is likely to put many of the fishing small businesses out of business. According to NOAA’s own report, the $710 per-day fee that the fishermen would need to fund to pay for the program will make 59 percent of the fishing enterprises unprofitable. So the men and women who literally risk life and limb to bring us fresh, local, sustainable seafood not only have the physical risks associated with their profession, but also the business risk of being driven out of business by NOAA’s unlawful regulation. Read the article here 08:16

Our View: New England Fishery Management Council needs to take a new tack

dave goethelA New Hampshire cod fisherman has sued the National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Administration over the hardship looming when he is required to pay for at-sea monitors. Monitors are required on a certain percentage of fishing vessels to satisfy regulations meant to reduce waste of the resource at sea and protect the fishery. David Goethel’s suit is appropriate mainly because he puts his boat into a fishery that was declared a disaster in 2012 by the Commerce Department, NOAA’s parent. Fish biomass for several species, including cod and some flounders, has rapidly eroded the opportunity for success for groundfishermen like him. Read the op-ed here 11:10

Cod and costs: Lawsuit says groundfishing industry will collapse under cost of new federal mandate

TJI_groundfishing-cod_121715-450x166Maine fishermen would be among those hardest hit by a new federal mandate that requires groundfishing boat captains to pay for at-sea monitors, critics say. The at-sea monitors are federally mandated enforcement contractors who can cost upwards of $700 a day, according to litigants in a new lawsuit against the federal government. In Maine, Portland is a major port for ground fishermen, but more remote places such as Cundy’s Harbor out of Harpswell would be affected as well, said New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel, plaintiff in the new case against the U.S. Department of Commerce. Read the article here 17:11

New England fishermen fear looming costs for at-sea monitors

New England fishermen, running out of time before the federal government hands them the cost of monitoring the industry at sea, say emergency intervention is needed or many of them will be out of business. Several New England congressmen said they are looking for ways to reduce the burden for fishermen. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, has submitted a bill to terminate the independent, third-party monitoring program unless it is fully funded by NOAA. She and., requested an investigation of the monitoring program,,, Read the rest here 08:02

Moulton, reps press NOAA on monitors

“We made it very clear that we don’t support the costs of at-sea monitoring being shifted to the fishermen,” Moulton said after the meeting. Moulton, along with fellow representatives William Keating, D-Mass., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, organized the meeting to help find an alternative to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s plan to stop paying for on groundfish boats and shift the costs — estimated at $710 per day per covered vessel — to the federal permit holders. Read the rest here 07:59

New Hampshire: NOAA monitoring fee will kill local fishing industry

100_1726Local fishermen say the looming cost of paying $700 per day, for at-sea monitors, could put them out of business by the end of the year. It’s a threat that everyone should take seriously. “The day I really have to pay for this is the day I stop going fishing,” says David Goethel, a commercial fisherman from Hampton. “The airlines do not pay for the TSA, agribusiness does not pay for meat inspection, and pharmaceutical companies do not pay for the FDA, to name a few,” Goethel said. “These are considered functions of government and so is catch monitoring.” Read the rest here 08:40

Covering the cost of NOAA at-sea monitors have been delayed by one month to Dec. 1

observer sean sullivanCosts fishermen say will break their business for good have been delayed by one month, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday. NOAA said this summer fishermen would have to begin paying roughly $700 per day for 24 percent of their fishing days starting Nov. 1, covering the cost of at-sea monitors to observe fishermen’s compliance with regulations.  NOAA currently pays for the at-sea monitoring. Read the rest here 09:09

Environmental groups’ misguided spending on oceans

Carlos Rafael famously and accurately predicted about five years ago that using the quota system known as catch shares in the Northeast Multispecies Fishery would drive small boats out of the water and consolidate licenses into the hands of a few. His operation would be fine, he said, because of its size. Now that government regulators have determined that fishermen will bear the cost of  at-sea monitors, the pescatarian prognosticator has made another prediction. In a letter to the editor last week, the Oracle of the Ocean pointed out that analysis by the regulators,,, Read the rest here 08:37

NOAA and it’s ENGO “Partner’s” issues report on at-sea monitors

NOAA Fisheries this week stepped further into that maelstrom with a largely internally generated report that focuses on cost comparisons between the current manual system of at-sea monitoring and electronic monitoring. It also released an independent review of the NOAA report. The NOAA report, generated with the assistance of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and other non-governmental organizations, concedes a wide array of assumptions — it is based on hypothetical Northeast multispecies and Atlantic herring and mackerel fisheries — and accepts that it is merely “a starting point for developing future [electronic monitoring] program designs.” The conclusions? Read the rest here 08:14

Carlos Rafael — White House should heed call on burden of at-sea monitors

In a show of bipartisan cooperation that’s all too rare in today’s politics, Massachusetts’ Republican governor and all-Democratic congressional delegation united late last month to call upon the Obama administration to reverse a particularly egregious federal policy: the current plan by NOAA to require the fishing industry to pay the full cost for at-sea monitors for the groundfish fishery. Fishermen will now be required to hire monitors from an approved short list of for-profit companies. This policy will impose a significant burden on area fishermen, and poses a threat to the future of a fishery that is already reeling from a string of onerous federal regulations. Read the rest here 09:05

Groundfish industry taking another hit with addition of at-sea monitors – Steve Urbon

observer sean sullivanSo this is how it looks. The gradual collapse of the New England groundfish industry continued last week as about two dozen people jammed into a meeting room of the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries office in the former voc-tech school on Purchase Street to argue about the distribution of disaster relief money allocated by Congress. Adding insult to injury is the impending shift of costs for at-sea monitors to the fishing boats. Fishing industry advocates liken this to a shotgun wedding, in which the boats have no choice but to sign a contract with a third party with no say in the price being paid. Read the rest here 09:09

Disburse disaster aid to all active fishermen – Jan Margeson, Brewster

cashA typical small-boat fisherman from Cape Cod — or anywhere in the state for that matter — has more than navigating around the tides and the wind to contend with in today’s complicated regulatory world and in the face of a changing ocean. There’s crew to pay to sustain viable communities, gear and fuel to buy to support a coastal economy, and safety equipment to update to make sure they are prepared in any emergency. Starting in October, these family fishermen will have to undertake a new added expense: paying for who count the fish they harvest and those they have to throw back. Read the rest here 08:38

Thanks to Regulatory Induced Effort Reductions, Money for At Sea Monitors to last through October!

130307_GT_ABO_BULLARD_1NOAA now says it expects to continue paying for at-sea monitoring of Northeast multispecies groundfish vessels through Oct. 31, two months longer than the federal agency initially projected. The news that that permit holders will have at least two more months before they have to absorb the responsibility for paying for at-sea observers on their boats certainly is welcome, even if the reason for it is not. “Due to reduced effort (by fishermen), the money is lasting longer,” Jennifer Goebel, a spokeswoman at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Gloucester, said Wednesday. Read the rest here 17:10